Joba Chamberlain: Not So Fast, Yankee Fans

Peter FleischerSenior Writer IJune 3, 2008

While everybody was ready to crown Joba Chamberlain king of the diamond before his first start, I realized something.

Nobody has a clue if this kid can start in the bigs.

I really think this was the most over-hyped debut of the year. Where was all the hoopla when Clayton Kershaw started against the Cardinals at the mere age of 20 years old?

His debut went much better, by the way.

Don't get me wrong, Joba is a great pitcher already. He's proved that he has a tough mentality and overpowering stuff. But, as Cardinals fans well know, there is a huge transition between starting and relieving at the major league level.

In the late '90s, Matt Morris came back from Tommy John surgery to throw straight gas in the Cardinals bullpen. I don't remember for sure, seeing as I was not even a teen, but Matty Mo came close to hitting 100 on the gun. I'm not kidding.

But while Morris was a great pitcher in the league for many years, his stuff was much different when starting. He was definitely not a flamethrower. Morris was good because of Dave Duncan's teachings and a good overall repertoire.

Adam Wainwright went through a change very much like what Joba's doing right now. After closing out the World Series for the Cardinals with an incredible fastball to compliment a knee-buckling curve, Wainwright struggled early in the year in 2007 to adjust to a starting role.

His ERA at the end of May was 5.59, and he had all of spring training to prepare. It wasn't until he learned to use all of his pitches and occasionally pitch to contact that Wainwright realized his full potential as a starter. If you watch his next start, you probably won't see him throw over 94 mph.

The point of all of this is that everybody involved with this debut, from the media, to the Yankees, to the fans, hyped this start up way too much, and it's not fair to Joba.

I have no doubts that he'll be a special pitcher in this league, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Five scoreless innings would have been a huge feat from Joba. Let's wait until he's thrown over 100 pitches a game, and the Yanks are actually winning before we watch his starts like the Super Bowl.

And if he ends up struggling as a starter, what's wrong with that? He's definitely capable of being the heir to Mariano Rivera's throne.

Let's just let this kid play ball, and grab a bag of popcorn. He'll definitely put on a show.